Open Mon–Sat midday–midnight; Sun midday–10.30pm
The Mall Tavern was taken over by the Perritt Brothers (the guys behind The Regent in Kensal Green and The Stag in Hampstead) three months ago and it looks all the better for it. A lick of moss green paint, leather seating and vintage mirrors and glass cabinets showcasing an assortment of iconic culinary bits and pieces give it a cosy and trendy feel. Upstairs, there’s also a private room adorned with fabulous mock-vintage portraits painted by the chef’s father and a chef’s table in the calm kitchen.
We hadn’t booked for our first Tuesday evening visit and it was so busy that we couldn’t get a table. We spotted a few North Kensington residents we knew who raved about the food. Groups of good-looking, local friends and couples filled the two double aspect-rooms. I booked for the following Tuesday and the only reason it wasn’t full was because there had been a tube strike. We found the staff charming and accommodating throughout both visits.
The daily-changing menu focuses on pub staples and retro favourites; the ‘Great British Bar Snacks’ includes pork crackling with bramley apple sauce (£2.50) and Cornish fish and crab Cup‘O soup (£3.50). We devoured warm, homemade soda bread; ‘One of the best I’ve had,’ my friend Andy said. For mains Andy went for the house favourite, chicken kiev (£11.50), but swapped coleslaw and hash brown for runner beans and mash – all perfectly cooked and plenty of butter oozed out of the kiev. Their veggie options weren’t very exciting (probably not surprising for a ‘70s and ‘80s-inspired menu); I chose the roast tomato tart with lambs lettuce and basil (£11.50) and ordered a side of buttered greens (£3). The pastry tart was thin and flaky; tomatoes were sweet and the salad dressing had a delisciously subtle hint of fruit. For dessert we shared a large, playful Eton tidy (£5.50), which we made a gooey mess of. Afterwards, the enthusiastic chef Jesse Dunford Wood popped over and cheekily berated Andy for not trying the coleslaw and hash brown.
The bar stocks a wide variety of whiskies, three cask ales, lager, stout and cider on tap and bottled beers from around the world. Plus a fine wine list courtesy of Liberty Wines and the pub’s local merchant Lea and Sanderman, all served by the bottle, glass and carafe.